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Hackers turn to online games to target victims

Warwick Ashford

Scammers and hackers are increasingly using online games to trick victims into installing malicious software onto computers, warns security firm BitDefender.

Children are the most obvious target of this tactic, with simple games like "spot the differences" between two similar images being laced with botnet infections and malware targeting financial data.

The problem is only set to grow, said BitDefender, with a recent online survey revealing that around 47% of children in the UK and the US have their own social network accounts and a quarter of parents do not monitor their children's online activity.

In the past week, BitDefender researchers have discovered more than half a dozen samples of games rigged with Trojans that could steer children to web pages that install malicious software potentially capable of stealing financial information or injecting spyware onto the machines.

Cybercriminals are also targeting children through sites with educational and entertaining materials, including a site for "adopting" and growing virtual pets. In all cases, researchers found the malicious code was planted on legitimate, high-traffic websites.

BitDefender recommends giving children access to only limited user accounts that will prevent them from installing applications, modifying critical system settings or deleting system files that might damage the operating system.

This type of attack is emerging as a growing number of business organisations allow employees to use their own computer devices at work.

A global study of 700 CIOs, commissioned by Citrix, has revealed that 94% of organisations are planning to allow staff to bring their own devices to work by 2013.

In the UK, organisations are more likely than other countries surveyed to trial bring your own device (BYOD) schemes, with 33% intending to do this within the next 12 months.


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